I sat in a dentist’s office this week for the fourth round of tooth extractions.
It wasn’t for myself, but for my daughter.
On this visit, she had her eleventh and twelfth teeth pulled—“The most any kid has had in 25 years of practice,” said the dentist.
I don’t usually cry or get too sentimental, but watching my little princess lay in that chair trying to be brave, but with tears creeping down from the corner of her eyes, choked me up and kept a frog in my throat for a half hour.
I have four daughters and it is experiences like this that keep me well acquainted with the strength and power inherent in a father’s protective love for his children.
The dentist visit, however difficult, had elements of what should be in it. I was there for my daughter. She was able to see that I was standing beside her through the appointment. I was able to hold her tenderly afterward and kiss her forehead. She was able to see my affection and hear my voice telling her how “brave she was” and how “proud I am.”
It reminded me of something my friend John Sowers says in his first book called Fatherless Generation. John is an expert on fatherlessness in America and runs The Mentoring Project that pairs children of single parents with mentors.
John’s words have etched themselves in my memory: “Fatherlessness wilts the dream of being Daddy’s little girl.”
Pain is horrible. Both hard for children and hard for parents. Pain, however, is an opportunity—while the TV is off and the need for love is high—for children and parents to deepen their bond.
The eleventh and twelfth tooth extractions were tough on my little girl and surprisingly emotional for me. But the pain created space and opportunity for deep connection. My daughter got a heavy dose of feeling like Daddy’s little girl that afternoon and evening.
I was there. I was strong for her. I was as tender and loving as I could be.
And I’ll be there again for the thirteenth and fourteenth teeth when they are pulled and my little princess adds to the record she holds at the dentist’s office.
Fatherlessness wilts the dream of being Daddy’s little girl. Pain and presence build it.
My heart goes out to all the little girls who will never know the specific quality of a father’s love—that they will find elements of it in the love of others and ultimately find its truest expression in the love our Heavenly Father has for us.
Photo Credit: Allison Harp
 Fatherless Generation, pg. 55